After nearly two years of “straddling” as a hobby, Ms. Falconer took the plunge and turned her skills into a full-fledged business that she called Poniworks.
On the first day of Covid’s number one lockdown last year, Ms Falconer, who was born and raised at Clachanburn station in Maniototo, found herself moving to Strath Taieri. Daughter Olivia came to stay for the lockdown and they spent their days riding ponies.
Since then, Ms Falconer has taken over old courses, stables and set up an arena, making a name for herself by starting her own ponies and horses and educating struggling horses for other people; solve their problems so that they can be safely taken back or resold.
“I have been breeding, starting and repairing horses for about 30 years and I do it for other people through word of mouth. I’m small enough to get on a pony and get to the bottom of their problems. I am also very straightforward with people and will always tell them how it is with a horse. This kind of honesty is important to people if they are buying a horse. And that’s important to me because it’s my name that’s at stake. “
It was during a visit to her family farm home in Maniototo that Ms Falconer told her family that she was considering finding a job at the nearby Macraes gold mine.
“My brother John said, ‘Make the horses. You are good, go ahead and make it a business ”. It was the push Mrs. Falconer needed.
Seeing 10-year-old Olivia excelling in her own riding boosted her newfound confidence. Olivia was placed third overall at the National Rising Stars Show Hunter competition in Christchurch earlier this year and she continues to be successful on the South Island tours.
Ms Falconer reflected on how she has coached Olivia over the years and what she has done well to help her grow in the sport.
“Until recently, she could only ride every other weekend when she came to my place, so it’s more about quality than quantity.”
Ms. Falconer might see a need for young riders to learn the basics of pony ownership and how to be a confident rider who will appreciate their pony.
Often times, parents spend thousands of dollars on a pony for their children, but lack the knowledge to take good care of them and teach the child how to get the most out of their investment.
“Ponies are like children. They need a lot of exercise and the right guardian if you want them to behave and be happy.”
This weekend, Mrs. Falconer is organizing her first day camp for young riders.
“It will be about handling and caring for their ponies, going to school in the arena, then a ride in the afternoon. Ultimately, it will be about learn to be a safe rider. When the kids feel safe and confident on their pony, they will want to ride more and everything will grow from there, “she said.
Ms. Falconer also breeds ponies for the past 25 years and has competed in national competitions from a young age.
“I breed my ponies to have temperament, trainability and talent, you can’t have one without the others. All the talent in the world is not enough if you don’t. no temper and fitness to train. “
– By Alice Scott